By Matthew Gordon-Martin
Focus is a word that I’ve heard constantly since the age of 5.
If you are like me and have an inner rebellious spirit, then it is the word that you’ve deviously made your enemy. If not, then its the word you’ve been playing with off and on, maybe as a friend who you engage with whenever it suits you but not a best friend who’s integrated into all aspects of your life.
I was taught that focus meant to give all my attention in a moment to a specific thing.
If I was able to master focus then I would be able to achieve anything.
Then came the onslaught of social media, high school teachers, university professors, mentors and bosses teaching me that if I mastered the ability to multi-task, I would truly have a skill of immense value.
But what was this multi-tasking thing? I assumed it meant to try to do as many things in a single moment without dropping the ball. I remember being in a job handling 2 customer requests while helping an associate with an issue, whilst at the same time greeting new staff and showing them how to clock in. I thought, “Yeah, this is me winning, nothing can keep me down.”
Then I remember one customer saying, “I don’t think you’re actually listening to me” and I thought, “Well of course not, I am trying to do 500 other things at the same time!”
This thought never left my mouth, however it did stop me in the moment and caused me to question whether or not I was actually being effective as a manager. You see I had heard everything that customer wanted to communicate but I was not truly listening because my focus was split, and I was not actually being ‘present’ with her.
Well, I stop and breathe. I take it all in and have developed a system of prioritization and task management. Then when I commit to a specific task I create a space where I can fully focus on what is in front of me for a specific amount of time.
This is one of the greatest issues I have found with multi-tasking; the fact that I am not truly present if my mind is thinking about something else rather than the task at hand. I have also discovered that when I am present and focused, I am more productive and I can achieve more in less time.
So how do I navigate the world that is constantly bombarding me with stimuli? (Where multi-tasking is expected and revered.)
The power of being focused is that you are more present and therefore utilizing all your faculties towards a specific goal or outcome.
The challenge here is to ensure that we use this power towards creating more of what we want vs what we don’t want.
So here’s a challenge for the powerful troubleshooters in the world.
What would be different if you used your brilliant mind to focus on the things you want to happen within the project versus trying to predict and manage all the challenges that may arise but that are not actually a reality?
What would we create then? What more would be possible with this as our focus…?
Food for thought!